For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.
I. THE PROMISE SPOKEN OF.
1. The promise of Christ which includes —
(1) The remission of sins through His atonement and merit.
(2) Full justification.
(3) Peace with God and our own conscience, "Christ is our peace."
(4) Adoption into the family of God.
(5) Eternal life.Think of these and other like blessings, and their connected hopes and consolations, and behold them all centred in Christ, Himself the great promise of the Old Testament, and then rejoice to receive Him for yourselves, and to recommend Him to others as the promise of revelation, the desire of all nations, and the consolation of Israel.
2. As Christ was preeminently the promise of the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit is pre-eminently the promise of the New. We are not to look for that miraculous agency which was given in apostolic days. This was not even then intended to supersede that ordinary gracious influence, which the Scripture declares to be essential to every one for the state of salvation. "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His" — "Except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit," etc. Our Lord speaks of sending the Spirit as the promise of the Father. No promise can be more plainly expressed than this, "Ask, and ye shall have"; and it is in reference to the Holy Spirit that this promise is given. Christianity is the very dispensation of the Spirit; its whole life, energy, and beauty depend on the communication of spiritual influence. The promise of the Spirit, like that of the Saviour, includes many other promises.
(3) A new heart and a right spirit.
(4) Strength in every season of weakness.
(5) Comfort in every trial.
(6) Joy amidst sorrow.
(7) Patience under tribulation.
(8) Perseverance amidst difficulty.Christianity is throughout a religion of promise. It began with the first promise to fallen man; its promises expanded, like the stream of holy waters in the vision of Ezekiel, till, when the fulness of time was come, they formed that river of life which is rolling its salubrious tide throughout a thirsty world.
II. FOR WHOM IS THE PROMISE MEANT?
1. The Jews; for St. Peter's auditory consisted entirely of Jews. Our Lord confined His personal ministry to the Jews. "I am not sent," He said, "but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Sending forth His apostles at first, He said, "Go not in the way of the Gentiles," etc. After His resurrection, when He enlarged their commission, so that its extent was to be the world, yet they were still to begin at Jerusalem; and in every city were first to address Jews, and then to turn to the Gentiles. And is there not encourage-anent for us, from the circumstance, that the Jews were to have the first offers of the promises of the gospel? There is this; the history of the Jews is a history of a most perverse, ungrateful, and rebellious people, who at length consummated their guilt by crucifying the Lord of life; yet to them first was the promise sent. Now surely that fact speaks volumes as to the freeness of the promise, as to the mercy of our God, as to the efficacy of the Redeemer's merits.
2. "The promise is unto you." If these brought joy home to the hearts of the Jews who heard the apostle, then surely His next words, "And to your children," must have touched another like chord, or rather, the same chord over again; for hard must be that parent's heart that does not rejoice quite as much in benefit to his children as in benefit to himself. Christianity most fully recognises that principle of natural affection, which the God of nature implanted in breasts of parents. The God of nature and the God of grace is one and the same. No sooner do parents discover the promise sent to themselves, than it says to them, I am sent unto you and to your children, introduce me to them, and them to me. I come to tell them that their father's God is willing to be their God also. It is remarkable how the Scriptures throughout encourage the promotion of the training up of children in the knowledge and belief of the promises of God. For this Abraham was so commended, "For I know him, that he will command his children," etc. This was the determination of Joshua. "Let others choose as they may, as for me and my house we will serve the Lord." This was the lamentation of David. "Although this mine house be not so with God." This was the pious study of the ancient Lois, and the maternal anxiety of Eunice, to train young Timothy in the knowledge of the Scriptures, which were able to make him wise unto salvation. This again was the care of Lydia, whose heart the Lord opened to attend to the things spoken by Paul, immediately after to have them addressed to her household also. The same was the effect on the jailer. Thus these examples from the Old and New Testament show that God encourages efforts to make known His promises to the young. What, then, can we think of parents who are anxious enough that their children should be well off for this world, should be accomplished, or learned, or rich — should form good connections, shine and sparkle in society, be admired and venerated in this world, but who have no care for their safety and happiness in the next?
3. "To all that are afar off," this means the Gentiles. St. Paul, writing to Ephesians, gives the very best comment on these words of St. Peter, "Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh," etc. Thus the Gentries afar off from God, from peace, from hope, and from salvation: but Christ hath broken down the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile. The same God over all, is rich unto all that call upon Him. The same promise which sounded in the ears of the three thousand Jews on the day of Pentecost is now gone forth to the ends of the world. It is the voice of the good Shepherd seeking after His lost sheep; and is the promise of Himself and His Spirit to give us a full salvation. This promise is to be addressed to all; it has a message to every human being; and yet, though the outward call is thus general and universal, our text adds,
4. "Even as many as the Lord our God shall call." Hence it is necessary well to understand, that beside the general call to be addressed to all, there must be the gracious and effectual calling of God. What the minister speaks to the ear, God speaks to the heart. The general call is so large, so rich, and so free, as to leave all without excuse who rest in the mere hearing of it with the ear, and do not seek to enter into it with their souls. The general call should stir us up to pray much for the gracious call.
(J. Hambleton, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.